Wednesday, March 3

China readies Plan B for Nepal Communist Party if PM Oli doesn’t play ball


The Communist Party of China team tasked to unite the two rival factions of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda may not have made much of headway, people familiar with the matter said after the group led by Prachanda stepped up attacks on PM Oli on Tuesday for dissolving parliament’s House of Representatives and calling fresh elections.

Former prime ministers Prachanda, Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal – the three communist party leaders who are fronting the attacks on PM Oli – are also set to address a joint rally against PM Oli.

The joint rally comes a day after the three had separate meetings with the visiting Chinese delegation led by Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.

Guo Yezhou and his team were deputed to visit Nepal by President Xi Jinping to stop the ruling communist party in Nepal from splitting.

Last week, PM Oli dissolved parliament in a surprise move that he later explained was designed to pre-empt his rivals within the party from moving a no-confidence motion against him. It was seen as a precursor to the split of the NCP that was formed in 2018 with the merger of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) and Prachanda’s Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist Centre.

China’s Guo Yezhou, who is believed to have helped the two parties merge in 2018, was sent by President Xi to help the two factions reconcile their differences. Guo Yezhou landed on Sunday and hours later, met President Bidya Bhandari and PM KP Sharma Oli.

Yesterday, he met the three former PMs from the rival camp – Prachanda, Madhav Nepal and Jhananath Khanal – and Janata Samajbadi Party boss Baburam Bhattarai.

On Tuesday, the Chinese delegation met former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who heads the country’s largest opposition party Nepali Congress.

Nepal watchers said the Chinese delegation, which had started by exploring the possibility of keeping the communist party in Kathmandu appeared to have concluded that the differences between the two rival factions were irreconcilable and had also discussed the possibility of an arrangement between the communist party faction led by Prachanda and Madhav Nepal and other political parties such as the Nepali Congress and Janata Samajbadi Party in case parliament’s dissolution is rolled back by the Supreme Court.

PM Oli had stunned the Chinese at their meeting on Sunday when he declined a suggestion that his cabinet should rescind its recommendation to the President to dissolve Parliament

“In China’s Plan B, it seems PM Oli is the common enemy,” a diplomat who tracks developments in Nepal said, indicating that PM Oli’s rivals could be expected to aim at PM Oli’s credentials. PM Oli had led the communist party to victory in the 2017 elections on the basis of a nationalist agenda.

“There will be an attempt to erode his credibility over the next few weeks and months,” the diplomat added.

China has rebutted criticism around interference in Nepal’s internal affairs, insisting that Guo Yezhou’s team was only in Kathmandu to deepen relations between political parties of the two countries.

“As the country’s friend and close neighbor, we hope relevant parties in Nepal can take into account the national interests and the big picture, properly manage internal differences and commit themselves to political stability and national development,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.